Monday, April 21, 2008

Roadtrip to Dallas

As much as I don't like to go to Dallas for company business, I went today and I will be there four days next week. Next week is recurrent Taxi & Engine Runup training. Today I attended the Women in Maintenance luncheon honoring Southwest Airlines (SWA) President, Colleen Barrett. While working for SWA for over 15 years, I have never met Colleen. I guess that is another negative of working the graveyard shift. Anyway, Colleen started as secretary for SWA back in 1967. Today's luncheon was to honor Colleen and all she has done for SWA and women in aviation. It was a hoot. We heard a lot of humorous stories of past male co workers and bosses. We were laughing the whole time. Colleen is really a compassionate, caring lady that loves to award teamwork and hard work. I got to sit with coworkers from Houston. A mechanic coworker from Houston also attended the luncheon. I haven't seen her in over a year. A year ago she had fallen at work and cracked her cheek bone. When she was ready to come back to work, she was told she had to lift 90 pounds (as a mechanic) in a "return to work" fitness test. Like me, she was livid over the ordeal. I really don't understand why we are told we need to lift 90 or 100 pounds when the requirements we were hired under still states up to 50 pounds. It really baffles me. Anyway, I had a good time today and glad I went.
Since my last post, I have been working on my neighbor's back fence line clearing it for a new fence. There is an old barbed wire fence there, so I have to remove all the barbed wire. I am rolling it up in 2 foot diameter circles to make Christmas wreaths. It is heavily wooded along this fence row. I have been using the Big Red Beast's backhoe and thumb to clear a lot of the brush. It is slower than dozing the brush with the loader bucket, but it leaves more fertile soil and ground cover in place.

I have also been working on their driveway. It is a long easement and has a lot of pot holes. For fuel money only, I have been hauling loamy clay and spreading it on their driveway. Imagine my surprise when they brought over a handful of 20 dollar bills and gave them to me. I think I need to get busy finishing their driveway. I have been waiting for some dryer weather, as I don't want to give them a bigger mud mess to drive through.
I installed a tool box finally. I decided I needed one when I drove the Mahindra over to work on my neighbor's driveway. I am glad I added a tool box on the 6520, as it really is handy to have odds and ends along with you. Tools are good to have also! Along with the tool box, I added an inexpensive temperature gauge to the canopy. This is my way of reminding myself to stop having fun when it is too hot and go inside and take a break. I can work for hours and need the reminder of that gauge staring at me. While I was wiring in my forward canopy work lights, Luke came out and snapped a few photos. I took some of him also.

You can view them here. I had a few large logs laying in the way of cutting the grass, so I took almost a whole afternoon doing nothing but cutting up large logs. I cut so many logs with the chainsaw my hands tingled all evening. Needless to say I didn't finish cutting up the logs. These logs are larger in diameter than the length of my 20 inch chain saw! The afternoon I was cutting firewood, I brought my ferrets, Sneaky & Phoebe, along with Luke's cat, Milo, outside in their carry cages while I opened up 4 roach bombs in the house. I took the critters out to the barn and put them on the tailgate of my truck. Sneaky and Phoebe thought it just another reason for more raisins, while Milo continued to Meow until she fell asleep.

Dad's lawn mower is broken and since my zero turn mower is faster, I have been hauling it over on my 20 foot gooseneck trailer. It takes a lot of fuel to pull the gooseneck. I had an old pop-up tent trailer laying out by the barn just begging me to fix it up. So I took a few days and had it narrowed and the railroad iron counterweight welded on the tongue, removed. It was added to balance out the compact air conditioner added in the back wall of the pop-up. Then I installed a 2x6 treated deck to it, along with complex, detailed, hinged ramps and an up latch assembly. As I had the trailer hitched to my truck, I employed the 6520's loader bucket as a floor jack and lifted the rear of the trailer up to install jack stand seated on 8 inch thick blocks of oak. It is finished now except installing the light's wiring harness. I need to get a license plate for it also. But for now, I have "borrowed" the plate off of the gooseneck. I do need to repack the wheel bearings. No telling how many miles my friend, Josephine, put on it before giving it to me.

It looks like I will not be getting any concrete poured this month. My truck's air conditioner has a slow leak in it and after next week's trip to Dallas for recurrent taxi training, I have to put it in the shop for further troubleshooting. I had the coil replaced two years and ago, so I hope it isn't that again. When I took it in last Tuesday morning, the technician said the leak is low in the system. So it could be some road debris that caused a leak in a line. I hope it is something that simple, as components are $$$$ to replace. So stop back later to see if I gave all my $$$$ to the air conditioning repair shop!

Oh yeah, I have been invited to Kentucky to work in a chicken house. Well, to see a chicken house and go horseback riding. I don't know when I will get to go. My question is, can you guess who did the inviting?

hugs, Brandi

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Stock Options and the IRS

I hope you never get one in the mail. I am talking about a letter from the Internal Revenue Service. I received it Friday, two weeks ago. It stated I owed Uncle Sam over 7,000 dollars because I didn't do my 2006 tax refund right. I started shaking and had to sit down. I kept trying to read the letter to see why, but all I could see was black words on white paper. Something about owing taxes on the proceeds from the sale of $19,000 worth of stock options. As this soaked in, it started to make more sense. I did sell that amount of options. But what the IRS didn't get was that those options cost me over $16,000 to purchase in cost, fees, and taxes. Yes, taxes were taken out by my employer. But the IRS didn't know that. I remember now, calling Deutsche Bank while doing my 2006 taxes and asking about the paperwork that the IRS was missing. I was told that SWA added it all into my W2. Which they did. I knew I had paperwork on all of it, but I couldn't find it. I must have shredded it with a lot of other papers. I tried online to open my account with Deutsche Bank, but couldn't remember my user name much less my password. I had to wait all weekend to contact them. I woke up early Monday to call and get online access again. Just a few key strokes and I had the figures the IRS and my Tax Refund was lacking. But my printer was broken and I was waiting on warranty parts from Kodak. Can you send me hard copies, I asked? Four days later I had what I needed. So I sat down again and read the letter. It also wanted a Schedule D filled out. To my surprise, I think I might get around $300 back for this amended return. We'll see in a few weeks if my figures match the figures the IRS comes up with. In the mean time, Kodak sent me a new print head for my printer and all is well now. I could print a photo, but it wouldn't print documents.

The first weekend of April found me in Austin with Rebecca. We were going canoeing, but never made it. After getting up late and deciding on a short drive to look at property southwest of Austin. Rebecca got Hwy 620 and Loop 360 confused and we didn't get back to the canoe rental place on Town Lake (what the locals call the Colorado River near downtown Austin) in time to rent a canoe! So we went over to the nature trail to find they had closed 20 minutes before. We then cruised South Congress Ave. watching all the hot rods and all the people they attract. It was a state wide hot rod rally and we were in the middle of it! There were some wild rides there and Rebecca took tons of photos. She took a lot of photos out my truck side window, so most of those have my nose in the photos also. Don't worry, I didn't post the nose photos!

Then we made our way to the Congress Ave. Bridge to watch up to a million and a half Mexican Free-tailed bats leave their perches under the bridge. We watched from the north shore under the bridge, then realized most of the bats were closer to the south shore. So we hiked over the bridge and stayed watching bats until it was too dark to see them unless you used your flash on the camera. We took a few good photos and you can see them here.
With a day as action packed as that, I was ready to take a bath and relax. But Rebecca wanted to go sing Karaoke. She also wante ME to sing. I have sung Karaoke with Luke in Thailand before, but we walked home then. I was driving and told Rebecca I really need about two Margaritas before I hit the floor! But I got to hear her sing. Her friend, Camille, sang also. We had a fun time and took a lot of photos with Rebecca's camera. Maybe by the time I post again, she will have emailed them to me.
I made it home in time on Sunday to mow Mom and Dad's yard and the majority of my yard and pasture. I didn't even get the Big Red Beast out. We had a gully washer of a rain last Tuesday and between me being tired and it still muddy, I just let my Mahindra sleep in the barn. Besides, after getting out of the mud last weekend by herself (with our help) she deserved a rest! Stop back for my next post when I tell of my birthday wish! It's a big one!
hugs, Brandi